Friday, October 26, 2007

More Neighbors

Two sides of the same coin.

Not a great photo, but a really cool bird. Black-Headed Trogon

Squirrel Cuckoo

Friday, October 19, 2007

Volcan Tenorio National Park

Last weekend we visited a national park about two and a half hours away. The generating force for the park is the volcanic mountain of Tenorio, one of several volcanoes running down the middle of the country. The increased elevation and proximity to both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts makes for high species diversity. The forests are thick and wet and small blond children can sometimes be found hiding under some of the ground vegetation.

One of the stories that drew us here was a tale of a blue river. We found it. The next picture shows the confluence of two rivers, neither of which is blue. A larger flow enters from the left, just off camera. A smaller flow enters from the right at the top of the picture. Each river carries a different natural chemical such that when they meet an exothermic reaction occurs. The white zone in the middle has temperatures around 40 degrees C (around 100F) whereas the rest of the water is in the 20's C. The mixed water flows out to the right a striking blue color. Our guide said that the causative agent is copper sulfate. (harkening back to my lab tech days in the electroplating factory in Bethlehem, PA, such an explanation seems plausible).

And then, downriver ...

The lush forests are home to a variety of animals. We spotted a couple of frogs, a bright orange millipede, some Capuchin monkeys, a three-toed sloth, and lots of birds. Surprisingly, the critters pictured below were all found within 50 yards of our cabin.

Julian offers his trip review.

I think that means, "Two thumbs up!"

Friday, October 12, 2007


The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel.
William Shakespeare

Meet some of my friends:

Our first visitor dropped out of the sky and into the pool to pay Julian and I a visit. That is Diana's hand not Julian's. Look at your own hand and then think about "plagues of locusts".

We spied our next visitor out the kitchen window as he skulked about the branches.

I took the next three photos at my favorite meditation spot. I call it, "The Swamp", because strangely enough, it is one. Mangrove. Apparently crocodiles live here, which makes meditating a bit tricky, but I have yet to see one. The last photo has two birds (zoom) although I saw only one when I took the picture. When I discovered, after uploading, the little guy hiding in the branches this picture became my favorite. For those interested, the bird on the wing is a yellow-headed caracara.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Life Just Outside

No Photoshop. Credits to Julian for the use of his T-Rex.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Independence Day

Two Fridays ago we celebrated Costa Rica's Independence Day. The Spanish department hosted an afternoon of presentations featuring our students and those from nearby schools. Events such as these always seem to me to have a bit of the dancing monkey syndrome. Would these locals be allowed on our campus at other times? Probably not, unless they could come up with the $8K tuition. But when I look at this kid's face, it does not matter who brought him here or for what reason.

Julian and Mason: A Parable on Life

Friday, September 14, 2007

Jane's Visit

Jane Goodall came to speak at our school last week. Julian brought his little toy orangutan to the assembly and sat right up front on the floor. He was too much of a temptation for the press corps with his blonde hair and toy "chimp". Not surprisingly, he and Chipmunk, the orangutan, made the local paper. Jane got the cover, but Julian got a color picture on the inside.

That makes two countries now in which he has appeared in the paper, although the U.S. press has yet to discover him.

Lulu and some of her kids. The ones in the chairs, including Miss Margo, are some of my 7th graders.

The weekend before, found us at Pirate Beach, a lovely spot just a few miles away. Diana liked it.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Rincon de la Vieja - A Night at Sergio's

Last weekend we left our lovely peninsula to venture inland to visit a National Park. Neighborly recommendations led us to Sergio's, a hacienda offering reasonably priced rooms, lots of open space, and easy access. The park was another 30 minutes beyond Sergio's, up a bumpy but manageable road with lovely views and quiet surroundings. The next 4 critters were all spotted from the road or within one hundred yards of it.

Damn those flycatchers!

The centerpiece of the park is a volcano with accompanying thermal features. It is no Jellystone, but there were some similar sights. Julian's favorite, and the selling points for convincing him of the trip's worth, were the boiling mud pots. Nearby, he harvested a piece of the ground, "volcano clay" as we like to call it, that he kept as a souvenir.

We did a short hike in the park, through wet, dense, muddy forest, visiting some waterfalls, steaming vents, mud pots, and bubbling thermal springs. The signs warned that the temperatures ranged to 142C. That seemed a bit hot to me, considering the boiling point of water, but mayhaps they were referring to the steaming vents. Regardless, we did not sneak around any of the wooden fences.

The most exciting parts of the park visit came as we were leaving. I saw a toucan fly by immediately after exiting the forest.

The ranger at the guard station had a 15-day-old boa constrictor that he brought over for Julian. I realized then that a snake does not have a childhood. That little curled bit of purpose had only three things on his "mind": eating, not being eaten, and staying warm. When I looked into its face, I saw the psyche of a full grown boa. If he could, he would have squeezed the life right out of me and swallowed me whole.

Before we hopped in our car to leave we walked to a nearby waterfall. The picture of the swimming hole at the bottom of the falls says enough.

Come visit; it's lots o' fun.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

A Sunday Morning Campus Walk

Something that shall remain untasted. Sorry Euell.

The world's slowest, yet most graceful, butterfly.

Black Headed Trogon

Unknown Dragonfly


Unknown Fungus

Click to enlarge. It's the last time I'm going to tell you.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Outdoor Adventures

The crab tore my leg off!

Feeling the surf groove:

What rock climbers do when all the rocks are covered in green. Click on the picture to enlarge (as always).